KidHQ: Walmart and Mattel Renting Space in Virtual Store

Online toy shopping is getting increasingly creative, as digital reality tools rise in popularity among retailers and consumers. Walmart and Mattel are now leasing “floors” at the BuzzFeed-produced interactive video experience KidHQ, a virtual reality store that allows users to browse products via choose-your-own-adventure-style videos. Both companies are looking ahead to the holiday season as they try to sell toys ranging from Barbies to “Frozen 2” merchandise, and are using interactive video to connect with consumers to do so. 

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Amazon Curated Annual Holiday Toy Guide Comes at a Cost

Amazon released its annual Holiday Toy Guide featuring more than 1,700 “curated” items. In order to be considered for a spot in the well-regarded guide, Amazon charges toy companies millions of dollars, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg. Amazon sells “Holiday Toy List” sponsorships for up to $2 million, and “the more sponsors pay, the more products they can nominate to be on the list and the more prominently their own products will be featured on the popular website.” Amazon’s summer toy list charged lower rates.

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Facebook Falls, Amazon Rises, and Apple Holds Top Spot

In Interbrand’s latest Best Global Brands report, Facebook fell out of the top ten, dropping to 14th due to an estimated declined value of 12 percent. Amazon moved up to 3rd and The Walt Disney Company moved up to 10th. Apple remains in the top spot, with Google right behind. Previously, Facebook had grown in value each year of its existence up until 2017, when it came in 8th place on the list. But with incidents like the Cambridge Analytica scandal on its heels, the company’s value has dipped. 

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TiVo Introduces Its Free, Ad-Supported Streaming Service 

On Tuesday, TiVo officially entered the streaming content service arena with the release of its ad-supported streaming service, TiVo Plus. The new service appears to be the company’s answer to The Roku Channel. TiVo Plus is available for free but only to those who own TiVo devices, and it’s enabled by a partnership with XUMO, Jukin Media, and other publishers, allowing TiVo to offer a wide range of content. TiVo indicates that, in total, there will be thousands of movies and TV shows available to consumers. 

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Princeton Study Shows Smart TVs Are Collecting Your Data

While streaming your favorite show on Netflix via an Internet-connected smart TV, your data is being collected, according to a new study from Princeton University, which found that smart TVs are equipped with data-collecting trackers. Researchers built a bot that installed thousands of channels on both Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices and mimicked human behaviors like watching videos and browsing. When the bot ran into an ad, it tracked what data was collected. Researchers claim there’s little consumer awareness of this activity.

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Amazon Offers Same-Day Shipping For Low-Cost Products

Amazon is stepping up its e-commerce domination with same-day shipping, even for products that cost less than $5, according to analysts at Edgewater Research. Rather than having to combine your “add-on” item to a larger purchase in order to reach a $25 minimum order to qualify for Amazon Prime shipping deals, the company is providing members with free same-day shipping, even if the only item is a $2 roll of dental floss. Amazon’s willingness to lose money on such a model illustrates its desire to compete with stores like CVS, Target and Walmart, where consumers often go for convenient purchases. Continue reading Amazon Offers Same-Day Shipping For Low-Cost Products

Facebook Agrees to $40 Million Fine for Incorrect Ad Metrics

Facebook agreed to pay a $40 million penalty for providing incorrect metrics for average viewing time of ads on its platform. In 2016, Facebook admitted to the problem, and a group of small advertisers sued in California federal court, in part claiming that Facebook knew about the problem long before it admitted and fixed it. Facebook countered the impact was minimal because it doesn’t bill advertisers based on watch-time; plaintiffs disagreed, saying it is a “common indirect barometer to guide ad-buying decisions.” Continue reading Facebook Agrees to $40 Million Fine for Incorrect Ad Metrics

Publishers Plan to Bring Transparency to Digital Advertising

The digital advertising business is often opaque, and now 16 companies, banded together as Source, are calling for a more transparent pipeline as well as standards and best practices for sharing data on fees and authenticating content. Oracle and News Corporation, among the other ad agencies, publishers and ad tech firms, hope their efforts will boost digital advertising beyond behemoths Facebook and Google. Publishers have long stated that middlemen take too much of the pie in an expensive, clunky supply chain. Continue reading Publishers Plan to Bring Transparency to Digital Advertising

More Details Emerge About Facebook’s Upcoming News Tab

Facebook is slated to launch a News Tab as early as the end of October, but according to sources only a few of the publishers whose headlines appear there will get paid. The News Tab, which will appear on the toolbar at the bottom of the Facebook mobile app, will feature links for up to 200 publications, but sources say the social media giant never intended to pay all those news outlets. Sources note that it is similar to how Facebook built its Watch section, which includes videos it doesn’t pay for. Continue reading More Details Emerge About Facebook’s Upcoming News Tab

TV Execs Push to Include Out-of-Home Viewing in Ratings

Local TV station executives are increasingly aware that viewers watch content on all kinds of devices. Accordingly, NBCUniversal and Hearst have stopped using traditional ratings and switched to total viewer impressions, which will count all the ways a show is viewed. Other local TV groups vowed to do the same by 2020. At the same time, national TV executives also plan to add in those who view shows outside the home, in offices, hotels and the like, into final ratings. Nielsen has long dominated ratings of linear TV viewership. Continue reading TV Execs Push to Include Out-of-Home Viewing in Ratings

Twitch Makes a Bigger Play to Become All-Purpose Streamer

The live-streaming gaming platform Twitch is hugely popular but has a goal to get even bigger. At the annual TwitchCon event, the company showed off an advertising campaign promoting itself as an all-purpose live-streaming platform. This move takes place just as the site’s biggest star, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, defected to Mixer, a rival streaming service owned by Microsoft. On the gaming front, the company also faces competition from Caffeine, a social broadcast platform that received $100 million from 21st Century Fox. Continue reading Twitch Makes a Bigger Play to Become All-Purpose Streamer

Californians for Consumer Privacy Make Bid for Enforcement

Californians for Consumer Privacy, which led the push for the privacy law that passed in the state, has a new plan to establish a data protection agency to make sure the law is enforced. The goal is to amend the law via a ballot initiative; it will take the valid signatures of more than 620,000 registered voters to put it on the ballot. The California Consumer Privacy Act now gives consumers the right to see what personal data has been collected, to delete it and to prevent companies from selling it. Continue reading Californians for Consumer Privacy Make Bid for Enforcement

Facebook Unveils Three New Ad Units: Polls, Playable, AR

Facebook announced plans to release three new ad units under the banner Advertising You Can Play With: polls, playable ads (both in the mobile News Feed), and, last, AR ads that will debut in beta in the fall. Playable ads, first shown at the ChinaJoy gaming conference in August 2018, allow users to install and try apps before buying them. AR ads have been in a test phase, with select advertisers, since Facebook revealed them at its F8 developer conference in 2018. All three products emphasize interactivity. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Three New Ad Units: Polls, Playable, AR

Pinterest Becomes a Visual Discovery Engine for Shopping

Pinterest is now promoting itself as a “visual discovery engine,” where its 300 million global monthly active users can not only browse billions of images but also purchase the items they find there. For most of its users, Pinterest is a go-to place for home décor, gardening and personal style, allowing users to “pin” or post photos to create inspiration boards. According to Pinterest, its AI technology can accurately pinpoint 2.5+ billion objects in photos, millions of which can be purchased by clicking on the item. Continue reading Pinterest Becomes a Visual Discovery Engine for Shopping

Google Debuts Game Sub Service Similar to Apple Arcade

This week, Google began rolling out a video game and app subscription service, Play Pass, with 350 games and apps, priced at $4.99 per month. The service first debuted on Android devices in the U.S. and will be unveiled in additional countries over the next few months. Google is also readying Stadia, a streaming video game service for big-budget titles. Play Pass arrives just a few days after Apple unveiled Apple Arcade, with over 100 games — most of them exclusives — at the same monthly price. Continue reading Google Debuts Game Sub Service Similar to Apple Arcade

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